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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 23, 2011

Gatt: A pitcher to be feared?

By Jordan J. Michael

VOORHEESVILLE –– Stepping into the batter’s box to face Amanda Gatt is some risky business. If her fierce look of determination doesn’t sound an alarm, then her vibrant pitching will.

Gatt, who just finished her sophomore year at Voorheesville, has already proved herself as a dynamic softball player. In her third season on the varsity team, Gatt broke the Birds’ all-time records for strikeouts (245) and batting average (.406).

Yes, she loves to pitch the ball, but she carries a dangerous bat, too.

“Pitching is my main focus, but I’ll still go out there and hit,” said Gatt, who took the mound in all 19 games for Voorheesville this season. She struck out only five times in 70 at bats and led her team with 16 RBIs.

Gatt’s strikeout-per-game average is a stunning 12.8 and she threw a no-hitter against Maple Hill to start the 2011 crusade. She already had 32 strikeouts after the first two games.

This week, Gatt was happy with the records she holds, but not complacent. She sat upright in her chair, composed, talking about further goals that she’d like to reach. For example, pitching in college.

“It feels good to have those records because you don’t know when they’ll be broken,” Gatt said. “They’re important to me because I set them, but I’m going to try and break them again in the next two years.”

Gatt wore her Electric City Bombers jersey, planning to throw pitches with her father after she spoke to The Enterprise. The Bombers are an elite U18 travel team based out of New Jersey that travels throughout the Northeast during the summer months. The team plays in college showcases, including the Adidas Futures in Utah in July.

“I’m trying to get recruited,” said Gatt, who plays on the Bombers with Jenna Cubello of Guilderland. “We’re all looking to go to college for softball. There is no way of knowing who is interested in you, so you have to put yourself out there.”

Living in the moment

Last summer, Gatt threw a perfect game with the Bombers during an elimination game in a tournament. She said that it was a “really exciting” moment. The ball from that performance still sits in her room.

“I didn’t know that I had a perfect game because I like to live in the moment,” Gatt said. “I can’t keep track of every batter. Plus, I don’t want to know because it adds pressure.”

Gatt has two no-hitters on the scholastic level, but throwing a perfect game on an elite stage with Electric City has more meaning. Gatt faces more experienced batters during the summer.

“School ball has a wide range of skill level,” she said. “The competition is harder when I’m playing travel league. It shows me more of who I am as a pitcher.”

What does Gatt bring to the mound? At least five pitches –– fastball, change up, drop curve, screwball, and a rise. She labeled herself as a “power” pitcher, but says that she’s working more on other pitches besides the fastball.

“I can get by with the fastball, but I can’t just throw it down the middle,” said Gatt. “I have a really long stride, so I constantly try to throw off the cycle. I use the fastball to get ahead.”

Gatt’s fastball looks overpowering to the naked eye, but she can’t determine exactly how fast it’s going. Last year, her fastball was clocked at 60 miles per hour in Binghamton. “People say that it’s gotten faster,” she said. “I try to go 100 percent all of the time.”

Receiving pitching lessons has allowed Gatt to widen her scope. She’s learned how to throw the fastball less often without sacrificing any of its effectiveness. Also, she’s learned how to grip the ball differently while being able to hide it from the batters.

“You have to mix it up and throw the right pitch at the right time,” Gatt said. “Try to fool the batters so they can’t catch up. I’m hiding it from everyone.”

Softball pitching is a natural underhand movement, which is better for the arm. Still, Gatt threw a ridiculous amount of innings as Voorheesville’s only starter this season. Pitching complete games became habitual.

“I like having the game in my hands, but I don’t want to wear my arm out,” said Gatt. “I never felt injured or tired, really. It’s the energy, the stretching, and the ice.”

“She wants the ball”

Voorheesville Head Coach Matt Fiato told The Enterprise that the odd number of rainouts this season did help spread out Gatt’s pitching time, but there were still some back-to-back days.

“She’s really in shape. She wants the ball,” Fiato said. “She likes to be in the circle, controlling the game.”

With the numbers that Gatt put up in 2011, it’s easy to assume that she carried the Lady Birds on her shoulders. Both Gatt and Fiato dispute that opinion.

“We all have to rely on each other; this is a team,” Gatt said. “It can’t just be me.”

However, Fiato thought that Gatt’s success pushed her teammates and made the situation more fun, as well as focused. “A team game is about having fun,” Fiato said. “Not everything rests on Amanda’s shoulders.”

Gatt is naturally competitive. She lives for the close games. When she’s not playing, she’s learning more about her craft. These Voorheesville records will be a temporary satisfaction for a girl that aspires to so much more.

“There’s always room for improvement,” said Gatt, who likes math and science, but not history. “I can go wherever I want if I keep working.”

Is she a pitcher that opponents should fear?

“I think batters are excited to face me,” she said. “I haven’t seen signs of fear. But, it’s hard to tell.”

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